“The available evidence indicates that the war on drugs is a failed war”, so says Former Brazilian president Fernando Henrique Cardosa. Latin America has grown weary of a failed drug policy and endless violence. In reading the perspective of Latin America, it’s remarkable how they play the addict to the co-dependant of the US. Just like a sanctimonious co dependant, the U.S. blames the Columbians and other nations for producing the products. Meanwhile we are the consumers. They have to be selling it to someone!!
The dance of the addict and co dependant is a difficult one to unravel. Co dependants don’t see that they are as sick as the addict, often sicker and so they try to control consumption by controlling availability and blaming. How many of us are guilty of flushing drugs down the toilet or throwing away bottles? This can be done forever and yet the addict will drink and use again. It’s a similar dance with U.S. and Latin America. We say to Columbia “Wouldn’t you rather grow chili peppers or flowers?” but we keep snorting coke and we blame the Columbians? We tell scrub farmers trying to feed their families not to grow the most lucrative product, coca. Coca is deeply ingrained in their culture, contains only trace amounts of cocaine, and is believed to have medicinal purposes. It’s like tea to the English. How far would that go in London?” You have to stop tea production because we don’t like it in America”. What a mess. What an arrogant, entitled, way to deal with a problem; blaming. with no reflection into our contribution to the problem. Where is the discourse, the collaboration?
Obama has a unique opportunity to shift this paradigm. He could tariff and regulate products that the American people want and consume. Create a whole new tax base and funding for all kinds of health and human service programs. So what if people want to get high? Who are we to tell them not to? What would be so terrible if you could buy weed at 7-11? What if we did work closely with the Latin American governments and drafted policy that made sense for all Americans, north and south?